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Sberbank agrees sale of Ukrainian unit

PAO Sberbank of Russia has agreed to sell Ukrainian unit PJSC Sberbank to a consortium of investors, including Latvian lender JSC Norvik Banka.

The Ukrainian government in mid-March imposed additional sanctions on local units of Russian state-owned banks like Sberbank, and Sberbank CEO Herman Gref said in response that Russia's biggest bank was looking for a speedy exit from the market. Sberbank's head office in the Ukrainian capital Kiev had been walled off with cinder blocks by anti-Russian activists, who began dismantling the wall after the sale was announced, the Financial Times reported March 28.

"Sberbank PJSC (Ukraine) has all the necessary means to fulfill its liabilities to private and corporate clients," Sberbank said. "We hope that the decision to sell our subsidiary bank will help to unblock its offices and to renew its normal work, which will allow the bank's customers to continue using the services of one of the most stable and efficient banks in Ukraine without interference, and will create a basis for its further development."

The consortium of investors also includes a Belarusian private company, which Sberbank did not name. No financial details were provided, although Sberbank did say it would book a loss on investments into PJSC Sberbank's capital within its financial results under Russian accounting standards.

The transaction will not have a material effect on Sberbank Group's consolidated IFRS results.

Norvik Banka said it and main shareholder Grigory Guselnikov had agreed to take part in the consortium, Reuters reported March 27. The consortium's majority owner will be Said Gutseriyev and his Belarussian company, Reuters added, noting that Gutseriyev's father, Mikhail, is a co-owner of Russian mid-sized oil producer Russneft.

The deal is expected to close during the first half, subject to approval by relevant financial and competition regulators, including in Latvia and Ukraine.